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Comment: Mid 1960's Army research (Score 1) 380

by calidoscope (#47329723) Attached to: New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel
There was an article or two in the likes of Mechanix Illustrated or related magazine about the US Army experimenting with ammonia fueled engines. Reports indiacted that engines would function, but had not been developed to the point of practicality. Shudder to think what kind of NOx levels are present in the exhaust.

Comment: Re:Cyclotron Radiation? (Score 1) 66

That sounds like a reasonable guess as to what is going on. The hot plasma is conductive and the Johnson noise may produce enough current to emit detectable radiation. My recollection was that the sky noise temp at 50 MHz was on the order of 3,000K, and the plasma from the meteor trail is likely to be considerably hotter than that.

Comment: Re:Fuel economy? (Score 1) 119

The benefits in the modest increase in efficiency are not so much from reduced energy usage, but the higher efficiency reduces the amount of waste heat that has to be removed from the PCU. The higher junction temperatures allowable with SiC makes the cooling task even easier. What has Toyota excited is that the PCU with SiC is much smaller than the PCU with standard silicon power devices.

Comment: Re:Efficiency? (Score 5, Informative) 234

The transmissions on current GE and EMD diesel electric locomotives are about 94% efficient from the output of the prime mover to the driving wheels. I would expect electric car motors to be on the order of 90 to 95% efficient, so this should compare favorably with a mechanical tranny.

Speaking of locomotives, the free piston gasifier was being heavily researched in the 1950's as a more efficient realization of a gas turbine and something that could compete with diesel engines as prime movers.

Comment: Re:Holdren isn't as literate as one might think (Score 1) 509

by calidoscope (#46657781) Attached to: The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates
Back in the 1970's, Holdren was also going around saying that clean coal was safer and better for the environment than nuclear. His "analysis" showed that the largest number of deaths would come from grade crossing accidents with coal trains. After hearing that, I never took him seriously as he is more of activist pretending to be a scientist.

Comment: Safety issues with grid tie-ins (Score 1) 579

by calidoscope (#45791843) Attached to: Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy

One huge difference between attaching something to the phone network and direct back-feed connections to the grid is that the back feed can be deadly if there's an issue with the local distribution network. This is usually taken care of by the anti-islanding circuitry in an inverter designed for grid tie use, and the utility has both the right and duty to make sure that circuitry is present and working in any grid tied installation.

Comment: Peak demand time (Score 2) 579

by calidoscope (#45791727) Attached to: Utilities Fight Back Against Solar Energy
FWIW, the peak demand in California typically occurs about 6PM, well after most PV installations fall off the grid (peak production from solar occurs at 12noon and solar output is largely gone after 3PM). This data is from the California ISO website. This implies that grid tied PV solar without some sort of power storage is NOT an effective source of peak shaving.

Comment: Re:Hope they speed up developing real batteries (Score 1) 363

by calidoscope (#45444749) Attached to: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees For Solar Rooftops
The first thing the rural utility co-ops did was to tell prospective customers that they had to render their windchargers permanently in-operable. In a similar vein, many cable companies required new subdivisions to have CC&R's that prohibited external antennas so that the residents were forced to buy cable services.

Comment: Re:Look up those words before you use them (Score 3, Interesting) 363

by calidoscope (#45444689) Attached to: Arizona Approves Grid-Connection Fees For Solar Rooftops
Obviously you have never taken a look at the California ISO website during the summer, which gives real information on demand and production. as opposed to rants of solar fanboys writing for Wikipedia. Peak production from solar occurs at 12 noon, peak demand occurs at 6PM. Solar does help with energy production during the hottest part of the days but is no help when demand is highest and thus does nothing to reduce the need for spinning reserves.

If you fail to plan, plan to fail.